Trump Administration Calls For Asylum Seekers To Pay Processing Fees For Paperwork That Have Never Had Fees
President Trump and his administration have introduced a new set of regulations that will surely discourage some asylum seekers from coming to the United States. The new regulations include charging a fee for asylum applications and delaying the approval of work permits. The proposal comes as the Trump administration continues to slow down the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross into the U.S. The changes will surely make it more difficult for asylum seekers to apply and stay in the U.S. as they wait for their case to be heard.
The reality of the situation is many asylum seekers won’t be able to afford these new proposed application fees.
President Trump is giving Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan 90 days come up with new regulations to speed up the processing of asylum claims. This will include directing officials to begin charging a fee to process asylum and employment authorization applications, which currently do not require payment.
While there are still questions about the amount that applicants might have to pay, it’s unclear how many families, who are fleeing poverty, would be able to afford these fees. While the report says the price would not exceed the cost of processing applications, officials did not provide an estimate for that amount.
For comparison, the application fee for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is $495, the fee for green card holders to file for U.S. citizenship is $725, and the fee to apply for a green card can go as high as $1,225, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Among other regulations, the Trump administration is also making it harder to get work permits for some asylum seekers.
Under current federal laws, an asylum seeker can apply for a work permit five months (150 days) after submitting their asylum application. The Trump administration wants to change that regulation.
Under the new proposal, asylum seekers can be denied work permits if they entered or tried to enter the country illegally. They are also calling on officials to immediately revoke work authorizations when people are denied asylum and deported from the country. If an individual receives a work permit, a new fee will also be included.
The Trump administration though process behind the regulation is that work permits are encouraging asylum seekers to come to the U.S. While some may argue that’s probably true, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not also fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.
There are also proposed changes to “improve the integrity” of credible fear determinations.
The new report also calls on Homeland Security to “improve the integrity” of credible fear determinations. When migrants first come to the U.S. border and apply for asylum, the first step is often the credible-fear interview. There, they must prove to an asylum officer that they have a credible fear of returning home or face persecution. If they then succeed, migrants can then apply to various types of relief that are available.
President Trump has often ridiculed the asylum system because of this factor, at times calling it a “loophole” that attracts immigrants to the U.S.
The memo is the Trump administration’s latest effort to make it more difficult for migrants to come and stay in the country. This all comes amid a huge spike in border crossings, including a large number of families seeking asylum. According to DHS statistics, in fiscal year 2018, 92,959 asylum claims were made at the southern border, up from 55,584 in the 2017 fiscal year.
Many immigrant advocates are coming down on the new proposed regulations that will only make it harder to those seeking asylum.
The new proposed regulations are designed with fair intentions to deter the flow of incoming migrants. The Trump administration is financially attacking a group of vulnerable people, knowing full well the majority won’t be able to afford a fee.
It’s fair to assume there will be a lawsuit over these proposals and any new immigration policy put forward. Which means these new fees won’t be put in anytime soon. But immigration advocates are angry at these proposed measures and the consequence they will have on those seeking help.
“The idea that we will charge asylum seekers a fee to seek refuge from persecution, torture, or death is offensive and counter to our values,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.
Leonardo Arzuaga, 28, of Cuba, arrived in Mexico last month. He is one of many asylum seekers that would be affected by the new proposal as he is fleeing political persecution. Arzuaga is currently waiting until he can cross the U.S. border and claim asylum.
“I think it’s a bit unjust,” Arzuaga told the AP of the recent proposals. “Because many people do not have the means to arrive, work, produce. For me it’s something that isn’t logical. Because one practically gets here with nothing.”